The Biggest Loser is one of the most popular competition shows on television. It strives to get people healthy and to lower their risk level for health problems.
But when one of the coaches that is supposed to help everyone make healthy choices, gets sick himself it is such a scary thing.
Bob Harper was doing some CrossFit training in a group class when his whole life changed. He recently talked to CNN about the heart attack he had in February and it was an emotional event.
"I don't remember that day at all," Harper said. "I was told that I went to the gym Sunday morning ... and at the end of the workout, I went down to the ground."
He says that when he fell in the middle of the class, it took a minute or so for the others to notice he was unconscious. "I was in full cardiac arrest," Harper said. "I was dead, on that ground dead.
The instructor was able to find two doctors in the gym who were able to start CPR. "I was so lucky," Harper said. "They started performing CPR on me. They pulled out the AEDs (defibrillators) and used those on me twice before the paramedics got there and jolted me one more time."
He woke up two days later in the hospital, having no idea what happened. "I was so confused," said Harper. "I was like Dory from 'Finding Nemo' with short-term memory, reliving the heart attack over and over. 'Why am I here? What happened to me?' Then 10 minutes later, I was asking that all over again."
Normally you think about people who have heart attacks as being unhealthy, but obviously as a trainer on The Biggest Loser for 17 seasons and author of three best-sellers on fitness it was never on his mind.
Genetics played an enormous role in his "widowmaker" heart attack. "It was hugely shocking. I learned a lot about myself," he said. "Genetics does play a part in this. I'm a guy who lives a very healthy lifestyle, work out all the time, but there were things going on inside my body that I needed to be more aware of."
While regular exercise will usually reduce the threat of heart disease, there is a small chance that intense exercise can increase the risk of a heart attack in the moment.
Harper recalls how he ignored the warning signs, "Before the heart attack, I was having dizzy spells," he said. "I should have taken that more seriously. Man, it's been a huge wake-up call for me."
He encourages people to work out in gyms that have people who are trained in CPR so that in case of emergency there will be someone there to help. "I will never, ever, walk into a gym again that doesn't have people who know CPR and an AED somewhere in that gym," he said. "And I will make sure that every place has something like that."
Now that he's recovering, he is trying to be the best student possible. He has been following the doctors orders and completing some rehab therapy to make sure he will be back to his old self in no time.
Glad you are doing so well Bob!